February  27, 2016

Lassa Fe­ver virus has spread to 17 States of the federation and claimed 76 lives, the Federal Government has said.

The Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, who dis­closed this on Tuesday, de­scribed the outbreak of Lassa Fever as a “national embar­rassment”.

He therefore appealed to health practitioners in the 36 states of the federation not to hide any case from their gov­ernors and other leaders.

Adewole spoke in Abu­ja at the Emergency Nation­al Council on Health meeting with States’ Commissioners for Health and other stake­holders in the sector.

He said that so far, the Las­sa Fever virus had spread to 64 local government areas in 17 states, while 212 suspected cases had been recorded.

The meeting, according to the minister, is to facilitate dis­cussion on the control of the outbreak, develop strategies of prevention and management of all cases in the country.

The minister said: “There is a high level of denial and a conspiracy of silence in some states. I think people take de­light in saying we have no case and to me that is not the issue.

“In fact, if you are able to pick a suspicious case, to me that is the issue because that goes to tell us that the surveil­lance system is working.

“We also want to alert all health professionals in the country that they should re­port any case to the appro­priate authorities. I have de­scribed the outbreaks as a national embarrassment. We can manage the embarrass­ment, but when we allow an­other outbreak to occur in Au­gust this year, it will become a national shame to all of us. One of the things we will do is to stamp out Lassa Fever.

“Seventeen states have been affected across the country, it has affected 64 local govern­ments across the country and we have been able to pick 212 suspected cases. It dates back from August last year, not just this year. It is better to over-count suspected cases than to undercount.

“The real hotspots are Ni­ger, Bauchi, Taraba, Kano, Edo, Nasarawa, Plateau and Rivers, but for us to be honest with ourselves, all states should con­sider themselves at risk and put up measures to contain, pre­vent and reassure their com­munities that we are on top of the situation,” Adewole said.


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